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This website is dedicated to providing resources focusing on the intersection of phenomenology and the cognitive sciences.

Statement of purpose: The set of resources provided or referenced here includes

  • theoretical explorations of possible relations between phenomenology and cognitive science
  • practical and applied research that employs phenomenological resources in cognitive science
  • materials to support teaching and research in this area
  • updates on publications, conferences, and other related projects
  • Phenomenology is here understood as a philosophical discipline and method in the tradition started by Edmund Husserl, and including the work of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and numerous others. Recent attempts to integrate this notion of phenomenology with research in the cognitive sciences have aimed to provide a naturalistic framework for the analysis of experience. Although this contrasts with the antinaturalistic orientation of Husserlian phenomenology, these approaches make important use of Husserlian methodologies and insights. The work of Merleau-Ponty, who employed the results of psychological and neurological research in his phenomenological philosophy, represents a good model for this integration, which often emphasizes an embodied or enactive approach. The various groups mentioned on this site are interested in developing approaches to naturalized phenomenology, neurophenomenology, and communication between the continental phenomenological tradition, analytic philosophy of mind, and the empirical sciences.

    Background: The motivation for creating this site came from a meeting that took place in September 1999 at the Fetzer Institute (Human Consciousness: Integrating Phenomenology and Cognitive Science.). Evan Thompson (Philosophy, York University, Toronto) organized an international and interdisciplinary group of researchers to discuss how various methodologies in phenomenology and cognitive science can address the philosophical issue of intersubjectivity and knowledge of other minds. Subsequent to this meeting several other colloquia and workshops have been organized with the support of various institutions, including the Centre de recherches en epistŽmologie appliquŽe (CREA), the PhŽnomŽnologie et Cognition Research Group centered in Paris, and the Association for Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (see Projects and Colloquia for an updated list).

    Prior to the Fetzer meeting, and especially since the early 1990s, a variety of meetings and conferences were held to address various related issues. Many of them are listed in the bibliography of the volume Naturalizing Phenomenology: Issues in Contemporary Phenomenology and Cognitive Science (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000). A non-exhaustive list includes:

  • Phenomenological and Existential Issues in Modern Cognitive Science. Conference at the Center for Cognitive Science, University of San Marino, (May-June, 1991). Organized by Francisco Varela and Gordon Globus. Perhaps the first international meeting dealing explicitly with this theme. Participants: H. Dreyfus, T. van Gelder, D. Dennett, J. Haugeland, E. Pšppel, Paul Churchland, M. Johnson, M. Sullivan, E. Thompson, and J. Petitot.

  • L'IntentionalitŽ en question entre les sciences cognitives et le renouveau phenomŽnologique. Centre de Recherches d'Histoire des IdŽes, CNRS, URA 1256, Nice, France (June, 1992). Organized by Dominique Janicaud. Conference on intentionality. Participants included: H. Atlan, F. Cayla, R. Celis, J. F. Courtine, D. Davidson, P. Engel, G. Granel, M. Haar, K. Held, M. Henry, S. Ijsseling, R. Legros, A. Lingis, P. Livet, P. Loraux, J. Proust, M. Richir, E. Rigal, S. Robert, and J. Sallis. Follow-up publication: L'intentionalitŽ en question: Entre phŽnomŽnologie et recherches cognitives. Ed. D. Janicaud. Paris: J. Vrin, 1995.

  • Workshop on Embodiment, Self, and Spatial Perception. King's College Research Centre, Cambridge University (September, 1992). Organized by R. McCarthy, Naomi Eilan, and Anthony Marcel. Participants included: Thomas Baldwin, Jose Bermœdez, Bill Brewer, John Campbell, Quassim Cassam, Jonathan Cole, Shaun Gallagher, Nick Humphrey, Andrew Meltzoff, Keith Oatley, Brian O'Shaughnessy, Brian Cantwell Smith. Follow-up publication: The Body and the Self. Eds. J. Bermœdez, A. Marcel, and N. Eilan. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995.

  • Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Development Project. The Tempus Programme of the European Union Project 4310. (1992-94). Organized by Wolfgang L. Gombocz, University of Graz, Austria. Courses in Ljubljana (1993) and London (1994). Follow-up publication: Handbook: Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Eds. E. Baumgartner, W. Baumgartner, B. Borstner, M. Potrc, J. Shawe-Taylor, and E. Valentine. Dettelbach: Verlag Josef Roll, 1996.

  • Philosophie de l'action et neurosciences. Conference series at the Centre d'Analyse des Savoirs Contemporains, UniversitŽ des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg, France (1993-96). Organized by Jean-Luc Petit. Neuroscience of movement, action and phenomenological analysis. Participants: D. Andler, A. Berthoz, B. Bioulak, F. Dastur, C. Debru, N. Depraz, P. Engel, V. Gurfinkel, P. Jacob, M. Jeannerod, P. Livet, C. Macann, W. Miskiewicz, J. N. Missa, R. Misslin, R. Ogien, E. Pacherie, B. Pachoud, J. Petitot, J. Proust, G. Rizzolatti, J. P. Roll, J-M. Roy, A. Soulez, F. Varela, and D. Widlocher. Follow-up publication: Les Neurosciences et la philosophie de l'action, ed. J-L. Petit. Paris: Vrin, 1997.

  • Actualite cognitive de la phenomenologie: Les defis de la naturaliation. Bordeaux, October 1995. Conference organized by le Groupe de Recherches PhŽnomŽnologie et Cognition (ARCHIVES HUSSERL-Ecole Normale SupŽrieure et CREA-Ecole Polytechnique) and le Groupe de Recherches Pierre Duhem (DŽpartement de Philosophie de l'UniversitŽ Michel de Montaigne). Organizing Committee : Jean Petitot, Francisco Varela, Bernard Pachoud, Jean-Michel Roy.

  • Methodologies for the Study of Consciousness. An international symposium organized by Max Velmans, Janet Richardson, and Arthur Zajonc, at the Fetzer Institute in September, 1996. Participants included David Abram, Bernard Baars, Ron Brady, John Crook, Peter Fenwick, David Fontana, Brian Goodwin, Guven Guzeldere, Rom Harre, Ivan Havel, Jane Henry, Elizabeth McCormick, Millar Mair, John Pickering, Peter Reason, Marilyn Schlitz, Alwyn Scott, Gregory Simpson, Richard Stevens, Charles Tart, and Frances Vaughan. Follow-up publication: Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness, ed. Max Velmans. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.2000.

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